Poll: Trump approval ratings see uptick, but re-election support weakens

President Trump addresses a crowd at a rally in Council Bluffs October 9, 2018. (Caroline Cummings)

President Donald Trump is seeing higher approval ratings but those numbers aren't broadening re-election support, according to a new national poll from Grinnell College released Monday.

“The president is vulnerable heading into 2020," said Peter Hanson, political science professor at Grinnell College who helped conduct the poll. The central Iowa college teamed up with Ann Selzer, renowned pollster with Selzer & Company in Des Moines.

“This is a very, very challenging re-election landscape for him," Hanson said.

This national poll comes on the heels of a September poll, also indicating a "challenging" road to 2020. Since then, Hanson says the president has seen an increase in his approval ratings, but those numbers don't translate to re-election support.

Hanson attributes the uptick in approval is thanks to independent voters broadening their support, but the over re-election odds have remained the same because of a 7-point drop among Republican voters.

“All of the major demographic groups that supported Trump in the 2016 election have seen their support of him decline," Hanson said, "Even among non-college educated white men who have been the strongest base supporting him.”

Only 32% of those polled said they would definitely vote to re-elect Trump. The poll was conducted from November 24-27 and there is a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

He says these results are particularly interesting, and shocking, because of the back drop of the economy, in which a majority of those polled answered they feel positive about their personal financial futures.

“Historically, we’d expect president presiding over good economic times should be popular and have a fairly easy time winning reelection and we just don’t see that here," Hanson said.

But predictions can be made just yet, as November 3, 2020 is still a "political eternity" away, Hanson said. For starters, it's still unclear who will be the president's challenger in 2020, amid potential candidates weighing their bids and making their visits to the first-in-the-nation caucus state.

“We know that the president is a very formidable opponent in a campaign," Hanson said. "So it’s one thing to say he’s vulnerable and another thing to say Democrats will have an easy time unseating him. I don’t think they will.”

Rumored 2020 candidates Sen. Cory Booker, D-New Jersey and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-California, have both made stops to Iowa in the past few months, as is the case with former Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman Eric Swalwell from California.

Philanthropist , businessman and former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg visited Iowa to tout climate change initiatives Tuesday.

Here is the methodology behind the Grinnell College poll.

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